Contador may still appeal doping ban, won't retire

By Paul Logothetis

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 7 2012 1:41 p.m. MST

MADRID — Alberto Contador is considering appealing his two-year doping ban handed down to him by sport's highest court, maintaining his innocence a day after being stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.

Contador said Tuesday he has no plans to retire from cycling despite hinting previously that he might quit if banned for testing positive for clenbuterol on his way to winning a third Tour title, which was taken away from him with Monday's ruling.

Contador completely disagreed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which rejected his claim that his positive doping test for the muscle-building steroid was caused by eating contaminated meat.

"Something doesn't work with the system," Contador said at a crowded news conference in his native Pinto, on the outskirts of Madrid. "My lawyers and I will fight as far as we need to demonstrate my innocence."

Contador said his legal team is examining whether to appeal to Switzerland's supreme court, which is the only body he can still turn to in hopes of being exonerated.

"I've tried everything to understand this ruling, but I cannot. I cannot understand this ban they have handed me," said Contador, who underwent a lie-detector test during the doping investigation. "If there is anything else I can do to prove my innocence I'd like to know."

Contador said the ordeal has left him disillusioned with the sport and he would never recommend professional cycling to anyone.

"The only satisfaction I feel is that whatever decision was reached, the ruling never says I doped," Contador said during a 50-minute news conference that was often interrupted by rounds of applause and yells of "Contador" from supportive locals. "There was never an intention on my part."

Contador would not comment on his financial situation, with the International Cycling Union looking to fine him $3.25 million. His Saxo Bank-SunGard team boss Bjarne Riis said Tuesday that Contador would not be paid if he is not racing.

Contador, who tested positive during a rest day at the 2010 Tour, will be stripped of his results from races since Jan. 25, 2011 — the day the Spanish federation proposed a one-year ban, which was squashed through appeal before being taken by the UCI and WADA to CAS. That period includes his Giro d'Italia victory last season.

"They can take those two years and fine me but they can never take away my victories," Contador said.

He did not comment when asked if there was a vendetta against him, led by the UCI or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Contador is banned from riding until Aug. 6 and will miss this year's Tour, Giro d'Italia and Olympics in London. He did not say whether he will line up for the Spanish Vuelta, which starts on Aug. 18.

"I'm sure of one thing: I want to come back to ride the best races," Contador said.

Riis said the team's trust in Contador was "100 percent intact" after CAS' ruling said his positive test likely came from a "contaminated food supplement."

Contador's future with the Danish team remains vague.

"August is still a long time (away). If he wishes to continue with the team, our intention is the same," Riis said. "I would have no problem working with Alberto again. I have not seen a bike rider like him in many, many years, probably not since (Eddy) Merckx."

Contador and Merckx are among only five cyclists to have won all three of cycling's major events during their career. Contador also won the Tour in 2007 and '09, and took the Giro and Spanish Vuelta in 2008.

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